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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Ichihashi should hang if guilty: Hawker family


Staff writer

CHIBA — The family of Lindsay Ann Hawker feels Tatsuya Ichihashi should be sentenced to hang if the court finds him guilty of the 22-year-old Briton's March 2007 rape and murder, her parents said Monday.

Taking the witness stand at the fifth session of Ichihashi's trial at the Chiba District Court, Hawker's mother, Julia, said she and her two daughters, Lisa and Louise, have thought things through and now feel Ichihashi should face the maximum penalty under the law.

"(Lindsay) gave him a way out but he showed no mercy and murdered her," the mother said. Immediately after the slaying, the mother and Hawker's two sisters reportedly told investigators they did not necessarily want Lindsay's killer to hang.

Julia's husband, William, also stated earlier in the day that although capital punishment was abolished in the United Kingdom and other European Union states, the death penalty exists in Japan and should be applied if the accused is convicted.

Ichihashi, 32, is charged with rape resulting in death, murder and abandoning the body of Hawker. He has admitted raping and leaving the corpse, but claims he had no intention of murdering the victim and argues that she died while he tried to stop her from screaming and escaping from his apartment.

During Monday's trial session, it was revealed that Ichihashi has earned ¥9.12 million in royalties from his book published earlier this year describing his 32-months as a fugitive. The Hawker family has refused the money, which the defendant has offered, as compensation.

Later in the day, Ichihashi was questioned by the defense team and apologized to the Hawker family, claiming he realized how thoughtless he was to have written the book. But in tears, he added he thought it was the only way to raise redress money.

Meanwhile, two professors who taught Ichihashi at Chiba University testified that they remember the defendant as a normal and average student, adding they were shocked by what he allegedly did.

Toru Mitani, a professor of landscape design, said he decided to take the witness stand because the defense could not find anyone to testify on behalf of their client. Ichihashi's parents have not appeared in court.

"I had to think hard about testifying (for Ichihashi) in front of the Hawker family, but I thought I should give information on what I know about him (to the court) and make sure he gets a fair trial," Mitani said.

"I think he would accept the maximum penalty as a way to escape, to get rid of himself. But I feel he needs more time to think about the victim's family and suffer. Otherwise, it won't be good for him or Lindsay," Mitani said.

Ichihashi's trial will continue Tuesday, when both the prosecution and defense are to make their closing arguments.



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